The summer of rock
Concerts and festivals from central Illinois to St. Louis to Chicago
We know you audiophiles are mourning. Ameren’s Summer Serenades fizzled out and the Washington Street Jazz Festival is no more, but fear not. There’s still a hundred ways to rock your eardrums this summer, and Illinois Times is here to help you sort through the options.
This year’s SOHO Music Festival packs 24 bands in two evenings at the Old State Capitol. June 4 has performances by Gypsy Collabo, The Waves, Tom Irwin and The Hayburners, Micah Walk Band, and The Station. The fest returns June 5 with the Ramblin’ Blues Band, Deep Lunar Blue, Luke Turasky Project, Telegraph 3am, Dan Hubbard and The Humidores, Wabash Run and Cabin Fever. Admission is $5. More information is at www.myspace.com/sohomusicfest.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit will join other acts on the Taste of Downtown Festival stage, July 10. The Capital City Celebration (July 3-4) and the Old Capitol Blues & BBQ (Aug. 28) also promise live performances.
All’s fair in rock ’n roll
The Illinois State Fair amped up its grandstand offerings this summer, offering live music on the track almost every night of the fair. Lady Antebellum (Aug. 13), Kiss Army (Aug. 14), Shinedown and Chevelle (Aug. 15) Illinois Symphony Orchestra (Aug. 16), MercyMe and Tenth Avenue North (Aug. 17), Blake Sheldon and Candy Coburn (Aug. 17), Cheap Trick and Blondie (Aug. 20), Selena Gomez and Mitchel Musso (Aug. 21), Darius Rucker and Eric Church (Aug. 22) are all on this year’s calendar. Ticketmaster has tickets now, but if you nab them at the Grandstand ticket office when it opens June 5, you won’t be hit up for any pesky fees.
This year’s Sangamon County Fair in New Berlin hosts Bombshell and Adam James (June 16), Jake Owen and David Nail (June 17), Cross Canadian Ragweed and Randy Houser (June 18) and Rodney Atkins and Chris Young (June 19). Access to each of these acts is complimentary with $15 admission to the fair, while a special $20 pass lets you in to concerts 15 minutes before the rest of the crowd.
Tracy Lawrence hits the Logan County Fair Grandstand in Lincoln Aug. 6, while Craig Morgan plays the Morgan County Fair in Jacksonville July 10.
Dancing in Decatur, Insane in Champaign
The Charlie Daniels band, Lou Gramm of Foreigner, rappers Tone Loc and Young MC, Expose, Francesca Battistelli and Ryan Cabrera hit the stage at the Decatur Celebration Aug. 6-8 in Downtown Decatur. Admission is free, but participants are encouraged to purchase wristbands for $3 for one day or $5 for the entire festival, which are required to purchase food or drink.
“The sickest fest in the Midwest,” commonly known as the Central Illinois Metal Fest, brings together local and far-flung practitioners of black metal, some from Germany and Mexico, to the Canopy Club in Champaign July 23-24.
A variety of genres highlight the Taste of Champaign-Urbana stage in West Side Park, from rock and blues act Delta Kings (June 11), to indie rock groups Elsinore (June 12) and Bottle of Justus (June 13), and even Cajun outfit Hurricane Gumbo (June 12).
Loudly St. Louis
The U.S. Cellular Rib America Festival boasts a combination of rock and “the world’s best ribs” to Soldier’s Memorial in downtown St. Louis over Memorial Day weekend. Bret Michaels is slated for May 29, playing after Jackyl, L.A. Guns and Dokken. It will be Michael’s second show since a brain hemorrhage hospitalized the former Poison front man in April. May 30, 90s alt-rock heroes Collective Soul and Everclear perform, while classic rock staples Blue Oyster Cult and Foghat follow with a performance May 31. Admission to the festival is free before 5 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday, and $5 thereafter. Tickets for front-stage reserved seating range from $25-$50, depending on the day and seating section. Tickets and more information are available at www.ribamerica.com.
A revived Lilith Fair, one of the biggest tours of the 90s and a testament to women’s contributions to music, visits Verizon Wireless Amphitheater July 16. The St. Louis visit brings Kelly Clarkson, Emmylou Harris, Mary J. Blige, Canadian indie rock act Metric, Kansas City pop/rock quartet Vedera, Jennifer Knapp, Kina Grannis, Meaghan Smith, Ingrid Michaelson and Lilith Fair cofounder Sarah McLachlan. The fair makes another stop July 17 at Chicago’s First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, with a slightly tweaked lineup including folk minimalist Cat Power, Brittish synthpop duo La Roux, along with Heart, Vita Chambers and Kate Nash. Tickets for Lilith Fair are available through Ticketmaster from $47.50-$258.
Live on the Levee brings out Common (July 9), Slightly Stoopid (July 10), Clint Black (July 17), Sara Bareilles (July 23) and Silversun Pickups with Against Me! (July 24) to rock the base of the St. Louis Arch. John Legend, B-52s, and a bevy of local talent play Fair St. Louis July 3 and 4. Information on both events can be retrieved at www.celebratestlouis.org.
Three Day’s Grace, Seether, Papa Roach, Coheed & Cambria, Motion City Soundtrack and others will hit the Verizon Wireless amphitheater for the 26th installment of Pointfest. For $29, a total of 29 acts can be heard at the one-day event, slated for June 6. Reserved tickets are sold out, but lawn seats are still being sold at www.kpnt.com and www.livenation.com.
Letting go in Chicago
Three-day passes for the Pitchfork Music Festival sold out in February, but single-day passes for this Mecca of avant-garde musicians and hipsterdom can still be had for $40 each. Pitchfork lasts from July 16 to 18 and brings St. Vincent, Modest Mouse, Surfer Blood, Local Natives, Free Energy and Lightning Bolt, along with other indie and underground acts, to Union Park in Chicago. The official lineup and tickets are available at www.pitchforkmusicfestival.com.
After a 12-year hiatus, seminal Seattle grunge outfit Soundgarden is reunited and touring, stopping at Lollapalooza along the way. A bizarre cross-pollination of pop, indie, alternative and punk music, this year’s festival runs Aug. 6-8 in Grant Park and includes performances by Green Day, Lady GaGa, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, Phoenix, Devo, Wolfmother, Grizzly Bear and more.
No list of summer music in Chicago would be complete without the Chicago Blues Festival, June 11-13, the largest of its kind in the world. This year’s Taste of Chicago hosts Los Lonely Boys, Rob Thomas, the Steve Miller Band, Passion Pit and more from June 25 to July 4. The Chicago Jazz Festival will be Sept. 4 and 5 in Grant Park.
The Ravinia Festival continues its reign as the oldest outdoor music fest in the United States, bringing a variety of sounds to Highland Park from June 5 to Sept. 4. Among the artists slated are the Temptations, Steve Martin, the B-52s, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and Carrie Underwood. The full calendar and tickets are available through www.ravinia.org.
Those who don’t mind traveling farther north can take advantage of Illinois’ largest street festival, Rockford’s On the Waterfront. More than 80 performers are scheduled, including Hinder (Sept. 3), American Idol’s Adam Lambert (Sept. 4) and Billy Idol (Sept. 5). Festival passes are $12 until May 31 and can be purchased at www.onthewaterfront.com.
Finally, if old-school music is your thing, really old-school music, there’s the Woodstock Mozart Festival in Woodstock July 31- Aug. 1, Aug. 7-8 and Aug. 14-15. This festival brings out internationally-recognized musicians to play classical tuneage such as Mozart’s Jupiter, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and selections from Chopin. Head banging is not encouraged, but don’t let us stop you.
Matthew Schroyer is an independent journalist based in Springfield, where he grew up. He enjoys blogging about political events, natural disasters, music and journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.